Actors and Writers Accuse Universal Studios of Trimming Trees to Weaponize Heat

This sounds paranoid and insane, but it’s actually probably true.

The Guardian:

The Los Angeles city controller’s office says it is investigating the trimming of tree branches on a stretch of roadway outside Universal Studios. The studio’s owners NBC Universal have denied making conditions for striking actors and writers more difficult in the intense heat.

In a series of posts on social media, LA city controller Kenneth Mejia said that the trees concerned are “LA City managed”, and that while public works agency StreetsLA are responsible for tree maintenance “a business can also obtain a permit to trim a tree”.

Strikers on picket outside Universal Studios’ Gate 8, on Barham Blvd, first reported the work on Monday, complaining that a line of ficus trees that had provided shade from what is forecast to this week become 33C (91F) heat had been severely cut back.

In a statement to Deadline, NBC Universal denied it had targeted strikers: “We understand that the safety tree trimming of the ficus trees we did on Barham Blvd has created unintended challenges for demonstrators, that was not our intention. In partnership with licensed arborists, we have pruned these trees annually at this time of year … We support the WGA and Sag’s right to demonstrate, and are working to provide some shade coverage.”

I’ve been intended to write a big piece on these protests. They are the biggest since the 1960s.

Basically, it is about the use of AI, more than anything else.

The studios are claiming the right to pay an extra for one day’s work, then scan their image, then use their image forever, generated through AI.

It’s the first of many battles against AI, all of which humans are going to lose, because we live in a democracy where we have human rights values, because of a rules-based order.

That means, in short: human beings do not have any rights.